In my early years as a home educator I liked to have detailed homeschool plans and colour coded timetables. But after a few months, I’d be back at the computer revising my plans. I felt I’d failed. However as each year closed and I looked back at what I had actually done I realised that I had made progress. Probably not as much as I had hoped but still – it was progress. I never gave up planning just because I didn’t achieve everything I had hoped, instead I became a more realistic planner. I looked at the rhythm of my homeschool and as I understood my students needs and myself as a teacher I worked with what I knew.
Curriculum planning is fun for some people (I must admit I do like it) but for others it’s a great headache. But whether you like it or not curriculum planning is required when you get registered to homeschool. And even though the prescriptive nature of the Australian Curriculum and other state syllabi can feel very restrictive, planning can actually be quite liberating and stress relieving. Having a plan is like a compass for your homeschool year. It helps you set a course (or buy one) and it gives you a destination for your studies.
Some of us are natural planners and some of us are brilliant at the spontaneous. For me the plans weren’t the issue, it was my stamina to stay focused and motivated. And one of my downfalls in planning is that I never planned for the spontaneous. My plans were always hopeful that every day would be an interruption free good day and since those kind of days were the exception rather than the rule my optimism became my downfall.
The Puzzle of Planning
There is a knack to curriculum planning and in some ways it’s very much like putting a puzzle together. Here are a few tips that I have learnt that make planning realistic but comprehensive:
- Look at curriculum planning as a whole. Let all your subjects meld. Tie in your literature studies with all your subject.
- Use a teaching philosophy as your base for preparing your course of study rather than the newest curriculum out. This will tend to make your plans a lot more cohesive. For me it was always the Charlotte Mason method.
- When I surveyed a group of homeschool mums nearly all of us said we only homeschooled four days per week. Day 5 was for all those out of home events that still were ‘educational’ but not necessarily academic. Plan for 3 days a week for Kindergarten to Year 2 and 4 days a week for Year 3 to Year 6. In high school many of us moved to a five day week because our teens were becoming more independent.
- Make it simple. Detailed lesson plans and specific time slots often make you feel stressed because you feel like you didn’t complete the lesson or you are running behind.
- Go with your heart. This may sound like a funny thing to say but it is actually quite an intuitive method. So often we have a gut feeling about how we want to teach and this can be right on target. But it may also be challenging but ultimately it will give you a greater sense of purpose and motivation when you believe in the way you are teaching.
More Planning Help
Like I said, I like planning but it didn’t mean I wanted to do everything from scratch. I was happy when I found a book or resource that fitted in with my philosophy and plans. So don’t be afraid to use curriculum if it fits in with your philosophy of education.
If DIY curriculum planning is for you then take a look at our planning guides.
If you are looking for a complete package based on the ideas of Charlotte Mason then have a look at our My Homeschool courses.